The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, nor the kindly smile nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when he discovers that someone else believes in him and is willing to trust him.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Linsanity continues. Jeremy Lin just hit a game winning 3-ball against the Toronto Raptors. I dunno what to say.
Actually, I do, which is why I’m blogging yet again about Jeremy Lin.
In my last post, I wrote about how there were so many circumstances where it would have been reasonable for Jeremy to quit on his dream of playing professional basketball.
Jeremy is certainly in the spotlight for having persevered through it all, and it’s well chronicled how his faith has been so meaningful for him.
Part of faith though, and any spiritual journey really, is the influence and support of others, usually found in the safety of family and friends.
I’m always warmed by the stories of Jeremy’s family, and he seems to talk often about how supportive and close-knit his family is. Awesome.
There’s no doubt that Jeremy could not have done this without the steady, consistent support of his family, and I’m always tickled to witness bonded families like his, because I’m reminded of how much my family has meant to me too.
Support systems are necessary for anyone trying to persevere through trial, and if you’ve ever been in a particularly deep valley you know what I mean, either because the acute loneliness led you deeper into an abyss or because the outstretched arms of a loved one pulled you up from the mire.
For as long as I’ve followed Jeremy, there’s one person apart from his family that stands out as a “believer” in Jeremy when no one else thought he had the chops to make it to the NBA. I’m sure there are others who advocated for Jeremy through his doubts, including a litany of friends and church folk, but I wanted to bring up the one person I know was clearly publicly rooting for Jeremy even when he had many reasons to doubt or quit his prospects at pro ball (I don’t know if this person is a personal friend – I’m just saying he’s specifically a strong supporter basketball-wise).
Again, this post is just based on some public information, not any personal information. Jeremy’s take might be quite different, but I’m pretty sure this one person had some kind of impact on Jeremy’s belief that he could be where he is today.
I started following Jeremy Lin back in January ’09 after he had a remarkable game against Boston College, a Division 1 program that had just beaten the number 1 team in the country, the UNC Tarheels.
Jeremy’s story mixes some of my greatest passions (as you can see by these string of blog posts), including faith, sports, and race, and so I googled everything about the kid shortly after the BC game.
I read of his high school exploits, his involvement at AACF at Harvard, and how his dad was a basketball junkie. Yes, these are all the things that everyone has discovered in the past week and a half – I knew a couple of years early because I was intrigued by the upset win against BC.
In my research of Lin, I actually came across the blog of one person who was more obsessed than I was. The guy seemed to love hoops, and he would rave about Jeremy and the kind of player he was. He seemed to go to a ton of Harvard games to specifically scout Lin.
The guy’s twitter handle is @poormanscommish, and Poor Man’s Commish was Lin’s biggest advocate (Poor Man’s Commish admits that Brian Yang, a personal friend of Lin’s was the first to bring Lin to his attention, though). Poor Man’s Commish put up extensive scouting reports and analyses of different players that Lin was competing against, and he even put himself out there by saying that Lin was a bona fide 1st round NBA pick. Please click on that last link to see just how thorough Poor Man’s Commish’s analysis was.
With Lin’s success today, it’s amazing at just how prophetic Poor Man’s Commish was.
Which brings me to a recent discovery.
Poor Man’s Commish hadn’t talked to the Lins in awhile, but after Jeremy’s breakout game against the Nets (his first game with extensive minutes where he had 25 points and 7 assists), he “got an email from [Jeremy's] mom saying, “I know we haven’t talked in awhile, but thank you for your support.”
One of the first few to get a message from Jeremy’s mom after his breakout game last week was Poor Man’s Commish. The belief that Poor Man’s Commish had in Jeremy during his college years was special enough for Jeremy’s mom to remember him and reach out to him when all this Linsanity started.
I suspect it’s because Poor Man’s Commish believed in Jeremy when no one else would.
We tend to remember those people that believe in us when no one else does.
We tend to thank them, too.
There’s this story in the Bible of a man who was paralyzed. We’re not told how he was paralyzed or how long he’s been paralyzed – we just know he’s paralyzed.
And rumor has spread that there’s a man named Jesus who is in town, an extraordinary person who has demonstrated remarkable power through his healing and teachings.
Naturally, people crowd around to witness the phenomenon of this miracle worker, and they cram into the house where he’s teaching.
We’re told that there are friends who have carried the paralyzed man to meet Jesus. It’s too crowded to get the paralyzed man through the door, though.
So what do these friends do? They dig a hole through the roof of the house and lower the man inside.
The writer tells us, “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’”
A theological debate ensues regarding physical healing and spiritual healing, but one of the startling revelations of this passage is what I emboldened and italicized above – this paralyzed man is somehow healed as a result of Jesus seeing the faith of his friends, not necessarily the faith of this man, the text tells us.
I don’t know all the ins and outs of this passage or the theological implications therein. But I do know this about this passage and about faith:
Sometimes, we need people to believe for us, especially when no one else does. In fact, miracles can happen when we ride the faith of a genuine community of supporters.
In God’s economy, he gives us the shelter of a one another as a “body of Christ”, a group of fellow believers who hurt with us, cry with us, rejoice with us, and believe in us and for us – even when we don’t.
Having the support and belief of others is as spiritual as life can get, because that’s how God created us to function in this world.
Like Jeremy, we tend to remember those people that believe in us when no one else does.
We tend to thank them, too.
Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.
- Ecclesiastes 4:9-10